Creating an active learning environment for students with innovative classroom design and mobile furniture can be just as important as creating an effective syllabus. Traditional classroom furniture can negatively impact a student’s ability to learn and even cause them to have lasting health issues.
Currently, students in America are spending an average of 50% to 70% of the time they spend at school sitting at their desks, and parents and teachers are starting to see the repercussions. Research shows that sitting for the majority of the day contributes to an unhealthy lifestyle, causes students to struggle with academic problems and can even lead to health problems such as back pain, obesity and heightened cholesterol levels.
To combat these issues, students need access to a learning environment that eliminates extended sitting and encourages movement. Implementing a standing classroom in which students have the option to stay physically active and collaborate with one another could be the answer to this solution.
Schoolhouse has compiled some of the major benefits of offering stand up desks in the classroom:
1. Standing Increases Focus, Productivity and Engagement
Research shows that remaining inactive for prolonged periods of time can cause a person to feel drowsy or lethargic and lose their ability to concentrate. When students are forced to stay seated for hours at a time, it’s natural that they begin to fidget, act out and get distracted from their studies.
By having stand up or sit-stand desks in the classroom, students have ample opportunity to stand up, swing and stretch their legs and even walk around the room to reap the benefits of a longer attention span, an increased focus and greater productivity.
Any kind of exercise has the ability to strengthen certain areas of our brains to improve memory, cognitive skills and overall neuroplasticity, which allows the brain to receive and digest new information. When students are allowed to move around in the classroom, they are able to get that essential physical activity and increase their ability and motivation to learn new things.
2. Standing Desks Improve Physical Health
It comes as no surprise that swapping out sitting for light exercise can greatly improve our physical health and fitness levels.
Sitting for prolonged periods of time can increase the risk of diabetes, obesity, liver disease, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular problems and more. When students stay consistently active during class time, they are better able to burn calories and improve their blood circulation throughout the day, reducing their risk of these serious health issues.
As well, when you sit for long periods of time, you can’t help but begin to slouch and slump over. When this happens, our diaphragms effectively collapse and as a result, we don’t inhale as much oxygen as we normally would. This hunched posture not only has a negative effect on a child’s attention span since less oxygen is being delivered to the brain, it can also lead to severe physical issues such as weakened knees, shoulder pain and back pain.
By offering standing furniture, students are able to reduce these health risks, strengthen their leg muscles and improve their posture.
3. Mobile Furniture Encourages Student Collaboration
When most of us think of a traditional classroom setup, we imagine rows of individual school desks spaced an equal distance apart from each other and facing the front of the room. Traditional classroom design is focused on individual classwork, maintaining the philosophy that this kind of division may inspire independence. However, this solitary structure can add to a students’ sense of isolation, diminish their ability to work in a team environment and make them feel as though they are without proper academic support.
A traditional desk setup may teach students to work well individually, but a standing classroom teaches them to collaborate with their peers and helps them to build confidence in the classroom. As well, since students are better able to maneuver throughout the classroom space, they are more likely to engage in group work and learn from each other. Without the inconvenience of having to rearrange heavy, clunky desks just to socialize with your peers, students are more easily able to work as a team and become more comfortable sharing their opinions with one another.
4. Physical Activity Improves Individual Academic Performance
Standing furniture doesn’t just improve the attentiveness and collaboration of a class as a whole, it also has the ability to improve a student’s individual academic performance. By standing at the same eye level as their instructor and their peers — rather than slumping down in their seats — students are likely to feel more accountable for engaging in class discussion and are less likely to become distracted or lose focus. As well, being at the same eye level as their teacher rids the sense of classroom hierarchy and eliminates the potential for anxiety that occurs in students when a teacher hovers over their desk.
In addition, since standing desks encourage team collaboration, students become well-versed and comfortable asking questions and sharing opinions with their peers. This kind of confidence greatly improves communication skills, reignites curiosity in learning and leads to greater academic success.
5. Standing Classrooms Promote Healthier Habits
Today’s students are living at a time when there are more opportunities to sit than there has ever been before. With such a dramatic rise in average daily screen time, the sedentary lifestyle has become a norm for children and is putting their health at serious risk.
With after school activities consisting of playing video games, watching Netflix and scrolling through social media, it is vital to use the six hours they spend in the classroom as an opportunity to dismantle this routine. Sedentary behaviour is a hard habit to break, but if we tackle the problem while children are in school, we have a chance to encourage healthier habits. The key is to teach kids to move throughout the day and get them accustomed to an active routine.
6. Regular Physical Activity Improves Mental Health
Considering all of the major benefits we’ve mentioned so far, it’s no wonder that standing desks and mobile furniture can also improve your mental health.
When children are inactive, disinterested in their academics or uninvolved with their peers — all possible repercussions of prolonged sitting in classrooms — they are much more likely to suffer from mental health issues including anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Introducing mobile, standing classroom furniture has the potential to combat these issues and improve a students’ overall mental health.
When children move, they improve their blood flow and circulation, causing the brain to release mood-boosting chemicals like endorphins. When children socialize, they improve their self-esteem and learn to have confidence speaking their minds. Standing desks also reduce fatigue, anxiety and stress and encourage students to improve their social skills, to stay productive and motivated and to get regular physical activity.
With the introduction of standing desks and mobile furniture, classrooms are no longer maintain the sedentary, solitary feel they’ve had in the past; classrooms can now support a learning environment that encourages every student to be engaged in the learning process, with countless additional benefits.